School Bus Cameras Go Into Action
When school starts in Montgomery County new cameras affixed to school buses will start taking photos of illegally passing cars.
Passing a stopped school bus isn't just a safety hazard.
That kind behavior can kill a kid and, starting today it can cost you a fine in Montgomery County.
The Montgomery County Public Schools department has kitted out a number of its school buses with automated school bus safety cameras. "If you illegally pass a stopped school bus come Monday ... [Montgomery County] police will use the video evidence captured by the bus’s newly installed stop-arm camera to issue traffic citations," AAA Mid-Atlantic reported in a statement.
The fine: $250.
Should a police officer witness a driver illegally passing a stopped school bus, a $1,000 ticket—and three driver's license points—may be issued to the driver. Montgomery County police already issue about 500 tickets a year for the violation, AAA's statement continued.
During the school year, stopped school buses are illegally passed by drivers 72,000 times each school day across the country and more than 7,000 times a school day on roads in Maryland.
Last spring, Montgomery County became the third jurisdiction in the state to approve the use of the stop-arm camera technology for its school bus fleet.
Most school transportation-related accidents occur while children are getting on or off a school bus, according to the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education and AAA Mid-Atlantic.
"The area to the left of a school bus is always considered the most dangerous because of passing vehicles. The school bus 'danger zone' extends as much as 30 feet from the front bumper, 10 feet from the left and right sides of the bus and 10 feet behind the rear bumper of the school bus," AAA Mid-Atlantic reported.
Vehicles are required to stop for school buses loading and unloading children. Under state law, the only exception to the rule is if the school bus is across a divided highway with a median.
Know the rules of the road:
- On a two-lane roadway: When a school bus stops to pick up or drop off passengers, all traffic coming from both directions must stop at least 10 feet away from the school bus.
- On a four-lane roadway without a median separation: All traffic coming from both directions must stop at least 10 feet away from a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off passengers.
- On a divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation: When a school bus stops, only the traffic following the bus must stop. Traffic on the other side of the median separation may continue.